New Alabama law protects those who rescue children from hot cars

ATHENS, Ala. -  52 children died in hot cars nationwide in 2018.

A total of 17 hot car deaths have been recorded across the country so far this year.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, July is the hottest month of the year and it has been the worst for heatstroke deaths.

But now a new Alabama law could help save a child's life.

Most people's reaction after seeing a kid locked in a hot car is to rescue the child immediately, but that may mean damaging someone's vehicle.

The Limestone County Sheriff's Office says damage doesn't compare to saving a child's life.

"Essentially this law is just a reassurance to people, in a way that you're not going to get charged if you're saving a life and you've damaged property in the process," explained Stephen Young of the Limestone County Sheriff's Office.

Before the law, the sheriff's office says it wasn't likely people saving children would face consequences.

Previously, there was no law giving someone this sort of immunity.

"From a practical standpoint, it's probably not that you would find law enforcement agencies that would charge, or people that would press charges on someone for saving a child out of a hot car and damaging a window in the process," explained Young.

Heatstroke deaths can happen anytime of year, not just summer months.

"That applies in other months as well, especially here in the south, the majority of the months out of the year a car could become dangerous if its not properly ventilated," Young added.

There are steps you must take before springing into action.

"You need to call 911 before you do this, it's just an extra layer of protection, again common sense. Most people would think, 'ok there's a baby in a hot car, I'm going to call 911 but I'm going to get that baby out.'" said Young.

It's also important to make sure there are no other options before breaking a car window.

The sheriff's office says once you get the okay to rescue the kid, don't hesitate at all.

The new law goes into effect this fall.

But it doesn't exactly cover pets in hot cars.

The sheriff's office says while the law doesn't specifically include pets, it's not likely that pet owners will press charges against a person who rescued their animal.

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